Body language expert analyzes GOP candidates

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - According to body language experts, candidates can tell two stories in a debate. First, they can tell a story with their words and second, with non-verbal cues.

"Body language is just as important if not more important than spoken language," said Shauna Heathman, an image consultant and body language expert. "Body language has been around a lot longer than spoken language has."

Heathman broke down the unspoken words of GOP candidates from a debate in Myrtle Beach earlier this week. She said the first thing to look out for is the candidate's hands.

"Open palm gestures are always seen as approachable kind of body language cue," Heathman said.

In her opinion, Ron Paul uses the open palm gesture more than the other candidates giving off the vibe that he is very genuine. The hands can relay a negative message too.

"An audience is going to get a lot more negative feelings when a speaker uses a finger pointing gesture," said Heathman, who points out that Santorum did this a lot during the debate.

Mitt Romney didn't use the open palm gesture or the finger point much in the debate. He has a different approach.

"He uses the downward palm gestures it looks a lot more dominant than Ron Paul."

Newt Gingrich's signature move seems to be his "lean" on the podium, something he has done in several debates.

"It is a sign of dominance whenever we lean over something that's not ours or lean against someone else's office door frame," Heathman said.

Heathman says if you want to tell if a smile is genuine, you can tell by looking at the eyes.

"Real smiles show crows feet in peoples eyes when its genuine and that's not something that we can control at all," she said.

Heathman says a politician will try to get the viewer to mirror their actions, like nodding when they are speaking about a subject that is important to them.

"When you nod your head, its really hard as a listener not to nod back," Heathman said.

Heathman says in her opinion Paul and Romney get best in show for their non-verbal cues. She says Paul has the most authentic body language while Romney displays the qualities of a candidate voters can put their trust in.

Copyright WCSC 2012. All rights reserved.